Salmond aide: Yes campaign lost on economic case

Former Special Advisor to the First Minister Geoff Aberdein. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Former Special Advisor to the First Minister Geoff Aberdein. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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THE campaign for Scottish independence failed to convince voters of the economic case for leaving the UK, one of Alex Salmond’s closest aides has admitted.

Geoff Aberdein, who was Salmond’s chief of staff during his time as First Minister, said the shortcomings in the economic case must be “plugged quite strongly” before any second referendum is staged.

The Yes Scotland campaign, led by Mr Salmond, came under fire over its claims that Scotland would enter a currency union with the UK - a proposal rejected by all the main British parties. The campaign’s “optimistic” claims about the value of North Sea oil, which has since suffered a devastating global price crash, were also criticised.

Mr Aberdein, who has now left the Government, told BBC Radio Scotland today: “One of the great things about the campaign was that we set out a strong vision of Scotland as a fairer and more socially just country and I think that was a very, very strong element of the campaign.

“But where I feel that we probably let ourselves down slightly was on convincing people that Scotland was a strong economic prospect.

“I think that one of the things any Yes campaign will be doing ahead of any second referendum campaign will be trying to plug that gap.

“There are a number of people who have come up to me since saying `I would have voted Yes if I could just believe that Scotland could afford it’ - basically meaning if we could economically afford it.

“I think that’s something that needs to be plugged quite strongly.”

Mr Salmond has always rejected claims that the economic case was at fault and blamed the referendum defeat on the `Vow’ by the pro-union parties to give more powers to Holyrood.

It came as it emerged today that the SNP strategists would be ready to stage another referendum when consistent polling evidence shows support has reached 60%.

But Scottish Conservatives deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said Scots want to “move on” from the constitutional debate.

He said: “We face being dragged back by the SNP, constantly inventing a series of new and spurious tests for a re-run designed purely to keep its dream of separation alive.

“It is confirmation if ever we needed it that the SNP is the Scottish Neverendum party. It is confirmation that a re-elected SNP Government will put opinion poll ratings before your school, your hospital and the security of your job.

“A vote for the SNP next year is a vote to take Scotland back to another referendum. A vote for the Scottish Conservatives is a vote to respect last year’s referendum vote - and take Scotland forward.”